A.S. Watson, the world’s largest international health and beauty retailer, is proud to announce the milestone of sponsoring 5,000 corrective surgeries through Operation Smile worldwide as well as launching the Women in Medicine programme which empowers women in medicine and in the health care sector to provide educational pathways for women to be global leaders in medicine, health care and surgery.

According to Malina Ngai, CEO of A.S. Watson (Asia & Europe), “At A.S. Watson, we’re not only putting a smile on our customers’ faces today and tomorrow, but also on the people who need our help. That’s why we partnered with Operation Smile to launch our first-ever global community programme “Give a Smile” in 2018 to raise awareness and funds for children born with cleft palates or cleft lips, giving them beautiful new smiles and fresh hope through life-changing surgeries.”

Achieving 5,000 Surgeries Milestone

Since its launch, A.S. Watson and its retail brands have been working hand-in-hand to change the lives of cleft children from all around the world. This year, the Give a Smile campaign has reached a significant milestone of having sponsored 5,000 life-changing surgeries, which coincides with the 40th Anniversary of the medical programme of Operation Smile.

Ngai continued, “Every 3 minutes, a child is born with cleft. Cleft conditions not only affect a child’s physical health but also their mental health. A timely cleft surgery is crucial to transform a child’s life and bring them a healthier and happier future. The 5,000th surgery is such a remarkable milestone for A.S. Watson as it means we’re making great progress in helping more cleft children and their families regain the smiles they deserve.”

“However, we cannot do it alone. It’s a joint effort by our people, our customers, and our business partners. Every one of them is part of the achievement we’ve made, and their tremendous support will continue to drive us to do more for cleft children and their families.”

Advancing Women in Healthcare Leadership

A.S. Watson has an ongoing commitment to empower women so that every one of them can feel good, confident, and beautiful from the inside and out. The company has teamed up with Operation Smile to launch the Women in Medicine programme which aims to educate women in developing economies on advanced medical practices and specialties, empowering them to become leaders in global medicine, expand opportunities for female healthcare workers in underserved communities, and elevate the quality of cleft care.

Ngai added, “We are delighted that our global partnership with Operation Smile not only helps cleft children to restore their smile, but we can also help to empower women in the field of medical science. We believe the Women in Medicine programme will enable women to play a more leading role in medicine and in the healthcare sector, inspiring them to be more confident and professional.”

Kathleen Magee, Co-founder and President of Operation Smile said, “The ultimate goal of Women in Medicine is to inspire and enable women to take on leadership roles in the medical field so that they can help shape policies that would attract more women into the field and equip them with global-standard skills to widen access to safe surgery and quality cleft care. We appreciate the tremendous support from A.S. Watson for the Women in Medicine programme, and giving more smiles to the children suffering from cleft lips or cleft palate through its worldwide Give a Smile programme.”

The Women in Medicine programme was first launched in Watsons Philippines, which is an all-female international surgical and educational programme. The multinational team from 13 different countries conducted a one-day leadership and education day on the role of women in global health followed by five days of free surgeries, which amounted to 59 life-changing surgeries conducted for cleft children.

Maria Fernanda Tapia, a plastic surgeon from Bolivia and Operation Smile Global Surgery Fellow who participated in the Women in Medicine programme said, “Women and men are different from each other but that is no reason for women to feel that they are less capable of being part of the healthcare sector. Women have the capabilities to better care for patients, especially the vulnerable ones.”

Riding on the successful launch of the Women in Medicine programme in the Philippines, A.S. Watson will continue to work closely with Operation Smile to empower more women in the medical field and inspire them to look good, do good, feel great.

About A.S. Watson Group

Established in Hong Kong in 1841, A.S. Watson Group is the world’s largest international health and beauty retailer, operating over 16,300 stores under 12 retail brands in 28 markets, with about 130,000 employees worldwide. In the fiscal year 2021, A.S. Watson Group recorded revenue of US$22 billion. Every year, we serve over 5.5 billion shoppers via our O+O (Offline plus Online) platforms, providing tech-enabled retail experiences to customers offline and online. A.S. Watson Group is also a member of the world-renowned multinational conglomerate CK Hutchison Holdings Limited, which has four core businesses ‐ ports and related services, retail, infrastructure and telecommunications – in over 50 countries.

About Operation Smile

Operation Smile is a global nonprofit specializing in expert cleft surgery and care. We provide medical expertise, research and care through our dedicated staff and medical and student volunteers around the world, working alongside local governments, nonprofits and health systems and supported by our generous donors. Since 1982, Operation Smile has been committed to providing patients with health that lasts through lifesaving cleft surgeries and comprehensive care, helping them to better breathe, eat, speak, and live lives of greater quality and confidence. Our training and education programmes elevate safe surgical standards and strengthen a global network to reach more people earlier in their lives.

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